Department of Justice must prioritise work visas for healthcare staff - Martin Kenny TD
Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice Martin Kenny TD is calling on the Minister for Justice to prioritise the processing of Atypical Working Scheme visas for healthcare workers.
Speaking today, Teachta Kenny said:
"Our health service is at breaking point with 7,000 healthcare staff on leave from work due to contracting Covid-19 or being a close contact of someone with Covid-19. Those staff who are still working are run off their feet trying to keep vacancies filled.
"Meanwhile, the delays in processing Atypical Working Visas (ATWS) is preventing the recruitment of staff from overseas. I am told it is currently taking 10-12 weeks to process an application for an ATWS.
"The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has had to cancel 200 RCSI exams for nurses due to the delays in processing ATWS in January alone.
"Last March, the Department was able to process these applications in 48 hours. Now they are taking 10-12 weeks.
"The reality is that if it was not for the department dragging its heels on these applications, then we would have 200 additional nurses in Ireland by the end of this month.
"I wrote to Minister James Browne last week regarding this issue and asked that he take whatever steps necessary to prioritise these applications, but as of yet I have seen no change in the situation.
"We need these nurses now and the Department of Justice needs to get its act together and process these visas."